“Research shows that if a person makes a plan, builds a support system of family, friends and professionals, that they have a greater chance of successfully quitting smoking and beating nicotine addiction.”
As the New Year approaches, it’s a time when many individuals reflect and examine ways in which they can lead a healthier lifestyle. Quitting smoking is a popular resolution, and an appropriate one given World Health Organization estimates that smoking contributes to five million deaths each year. For smokers who are considering quitting as part of a new year’s resolution, pre-planning is an important step for a successful outcome.
“Research shows that if a person makes a plan, builds a support system of family, friends and professionals, that they have a greater chance of successfully quitting smoking and beating nicotine addiction,” said Scott McIntosh, Ph.D., director of the Greater Rochester Area Tobacco Cessation Center and associate director of the Smoking Research Program at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). “Quitting smoking is the best decision anyone can make to improve their overall health,” said McIntosh, who also serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Community and Preventative Medicine at URMC.
McIntosh offers 12 simple tips for quitting:
- Make a plan for quitting. Talk to your doctor about strategies such as quitting “cold turkey” versus nicotine replacement therapies.
- If you can give up cigarettes for 24 hours, you double your chance for success.
- Tell your friends, family and co-workers that you plan to quit and rally them to help you stick with it.
- Consider using approved medications – gum, patch, lozenges, spray, inhaler, Chantix or Zyban – to help you quit.
- Use resources available from the New York State Smokers’ Quitline: 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) and www.nysmokefree.com, the New York Smokers’ Quitsite.
- Avoid risky situations or behaviors that were comfortable when smoking.
- Remove all ashtrays, lighters, matches and cigarettes from the house. Just seeing them can make you want to smoke.
- Start eating sugarless hard candy or chewing crunchy vegetables – like carrot sticks – to keep your mouth busy. Consider using cinnamon candy, because its “burning” sensation mimics the feeling of smoking and kills the craving.
- Drink a lot of water. It helps keep you feeling “full,” and prevents you from overeating and gaining weight. It also helps “cleanse” your body of the toxins from years of smoking.
- Practice breathing deeply or take a walk when you’re craving a cigarette. Smoking involves taking long deep breaths, but now it’ll be fresh air rather than chemicals entering your lungs.
- Remind yourself why you are quitting – and reward yourself every day you make it without smoking cigarettes.
- Age doesn’t matter – older smokers are less likely to try to quit, but when they do try, they are more likely to succeed.
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